Lent – a time of abstinence for some. In many parts of the world Lent begins with a carnival time when God’s goodness to his people is remembered and celebrated. Of course, here in the UK we have the fun of Shrove Tuesday and the making, tossing and racing with pancakes. I know that the Young at Heart group certainly had lots of fun tossing pancakes when they met together.
Quite a bit of my work involves “hatches, matches and despatches” as I often hear baptism, weddings and funerals described. At my Ordination service I was told that as a priest I was to “baptise and prepare the baptised for Confirmation” and “minister to the sick, and prepare the dying for their death”. It is a part of my work that is a real privilege; being alongside people when they are rejoicing at the birth of a child, celebrating their love in a marriage, or in the deep sadness of bereavement.
I’ve been thinking about the things we fill our lives with; what we watch on TV, the books we read, the films we see, the constant attention given to social media, the way that much of what we hear and see is encouraging us to be better, want more, and find satisfaction in the things that we buy and in entertainment that helps us forget the stresses and difficulties we might be facing. Thankfully for most of us these things are not all-consuming, but they do influence the way we think about life in general, and our own lives in particular.
“I packed my suitcase and in it I put…..”
The school holidays are upon us; for some that will mean packing suitcases and heading away on holiday; for others it means definitely staying at home until all the busyness of the summer holidays is over and a break taken later in the year, if we are lucky enough to afford one.
Please excuse me for a walk down memory lane this month as on the 6th July I will have been ordained for 20 years; I spent four years as a Curate in Sprowston, then 10 years as Vicar of the Venta Group in South Norfolk and have been here in Belton and Burgh Castle for the last 6 years.
At the end of March Tim and I had a day in London to celebrate his birthday. As Tim is a Building Surveyor, he is always interested in the modern designs of buildings across the capital, so what better place to visit than The Shard. We travelled smoothly up to Level 69 in two lifts changing at level 33; and the sights that awaited us were amazing as we climbed the stairs up to the open air Skydeck on Level 72. The views were breath taking and we could pick out many famous landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, The Gherkin, the Tower of London and Canary Wharf.
Lent begins on Wednesday 1st March this year. Often there is a lot of talk about what people are giving up for Lent, but may be this year it is time to give rather than give up. What do I mean by this? Well, recently, Bruce and I have led a couple of assemblies in Moorlands Church of England Primary Academy where we have thought about “letting our light shine”. Incidentally the song “This little light of mine” was sung with real enthusiasm.
I feel it in my fingers,
I feel it in my toes
The love that's all around me,
And so the feeling grows
It's written on the wind,
It's everywhere I go
So if you really love me,
Come on and let it show
For all that has been…. Thanks. For all that will be…. Yes!
A new year brings the opportunity of a fresh start, and for many reading this article the year 2016 may not have been the best and you will be glad to see the beginning of a new year. I quite understand that! For others there will be a mixture of good memories and less happy ones and there is a choice as to whether we dwell on past difficulties or look forward to what the new year offers.
I remember one Christmas when, as a child, I had lost some teeth; I was “gappy!” and biting some foods was difficult. All I wanted Christmas was my two front teeth to come through! That might sound a bit flippant, but as a child it was important to me. So I wonder what is important to you this Christmas. What would be top of your Christmas gift list? It might be an end to a difficult time you have experienced. You might ask for restoration of your health or of a broken relationship. It might be sufficient money to clear your debts. Or the healing of pain due to the loss of a loved one.